Approximately one year ago I finally made good on my promise to Judge Geary Walke that I had made three years earlier to write a series of columns for the OCBA Briefcase. This started out as a trilogy of articles for the OCBA Briefcase introducing more mature practitioners to new technology, social media and the inherent issues for attorneys that come with “progress”. In the past twelve months I have learned that it is (1) difficult to teach an old dog new tricks, (2) no good deed goes unpunished and (3) it is very difficult to write a monthly article much less a biweekly blog. One of my favorite writers, Dave Barry, a Pulitzer Prize winner pens a year-end review each year that is a worthy piece of writing. So with lofty goals I set myself up to be a witty literate attorney writing for the good of the profession. In September 2015, I set out to write a monthly installment for the Briefcase and also publish it as an internet blog entitled “Open & Obvious?” The only failure guaranteed more so than this project is rating my beloved Sooners in the top 3 preseason with an incredibly difficult early schedule and my true belief that they will go undefeated.
However, I did not immediately get 100 likes or followers on social media from this nor did the Sooners get to 1-0. Nor did I get a new client. So many attorneys immediately ask themselves without a new paying client and no ego gratification, why do it. I guess all attorneys are inherently modern day Don Quixotes, regardless of age. For without holding tightly to the cause of civil justice, how could we remain in this profession. I, for one, did learn from this exercise and will persevere on behalf of the good of the County Bar and Oklahoma Lawyers.
It is only fitting that Judge Walke, who got me into this mess, would retire as editor on the one year anniversary of my first Briefcase article. I feel a little bit like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football that Judge Walke just pulled away. But some other things have been learned along the way. My first installment entitled “Natives v. Immigrants” was written when people nationally were talking about building walls. Some people are still talking about building walls and even visited the other side of said proposed wall. I was simply explaining why technology was a natural for millennials and not so much for boomers. My second article generally dealt with whether old lawyers were too far along to understand new social media. No real changes on that front to report but I did get a few readers of my blog on LinkedIn and Facebook. Skipping along, the theme of a later article was “When is a Friend Not a Friend”. Since that time “friends” have cyber penetrated just about every computer system available to penetrate including national retailers, banks, the IRS, Dropbox, LinkedIn and the Democratic National Committee. My article begging for friends, “Can I Be Your Friend” got me nowhere. The next installment “Did My New Friend Just Take My Data?” is a question that the DNC is still asking.
With some trepidation, I ventured into bar exam pass rate territory in another article. This article even drew a rebuttal article published by Judge Geary Walke, himself. So I guess I really missed the mark on that one. But, bar exam results are around again and so are the same discussions as before. In a follow up installment, I listed considerations for getting your own piece of the cloud before they run out of clouds. I wrote this article so well that I am actually buying a piece of a cloud complete with all the cyber security bells and whistles. Encrypted email ability is now a must have for many clients. Are any of you doing these things?
Then came “Are They Really Super?” Well I just received a boat load of notifications online of certain “Best Lawyers™” and “Super Lawyers™” at firms and for lawyers that I know. On cue with this article, I received an email to be named a “Best Premises Lawyer in Oklahoma” from a European publication to be paid in euros, I forwarded it to Judge Walke to prove I do not write fiction. One of my lawyer friends, who is licensed in New York, recently posted on Facebook that he had received multiple invitations to be nominated to the Top 100 Lawyers in the state of New York in his practice area. He noted the cost of such honor and that at the time of his last invitation there had been around 700 acceptances. As of this writing, I received an invitation to be one of the 100 something in Oklahoma lawyers. Again wondering how they count to 100 I saw that most lawyers in Hiltgen & Brewer received this same letter. I do note that several of the national and local publications now have very similar disclosure language for honors to the New Jersey opinion requirements I discussed about in that article. It seems that the publishers are being proactive on the ethics front regardless of the state. It is good for the profession and makes sense since these honors reach all 50 states and the globe via the internet.
So I hope that you got something out of this yearlong writing exercise and if nothing else, at least a little knowledge of what technology is out there and available. I also just received an invitation from one of the major publishers of lawyer marketing materials announcing an interactive webinar on blogging for all of those law firms wanting to increase their business. Their premise is that legal surveys show that law firms who regularly blog more effectively communicate with their potential markets and clients. Maybe, just maybe, I am ahead of the curve. I’ll continue to contribute to the Briefcase and publish in “Open and Obvious?” and hopefully with practice I’ll do better. Unlike Judge Walke, I am not ready to retire my quill and ink. And as in a popular cable television series, no one is really dead unless you see their head on a pole.
- Miami Herald, Dave Barry’s 2015 Year In Review, December 23, 2015.
Byline: Michael W. Brewer is an attorney, founder, and partner of Hiltgen & Brewer, PC in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. To contact Mike, email email@example.com, call (405) 605-9000 or tweet him at @attymikeb. For more information, please visit www.hbokc.law.